PENNSYLVANIA — Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture officials are celebrating a recent funding increase that will help the department provide food access for low-income seniors. The department was awarded more than $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan grants, which will be used to boost the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. In addition, the USDA increased the number of low-income seniors who can be served through the Senior Food Boxes program based on Pennsylvania’s recent performance. This is great news for the thousands of Pennsylvanians who rely on these programs for nutritious food staples.
“No amount of hunger in Pennsylvania is acceptable,” Redding said. “Our proven track record of serving older Pennsylvanians who need our help has earned us more funding to continue to help improve the day-to-day quality of life for seniors across the state. The department will continue to be good stewards of state and federal funding and work diligently to ensure that no Pennsylvanian has to worry about where they will get their next meal.”
This boost in funding for the Department of Agriculture comes at a critical time, with more than 1.9 million Pennsylvanians – many of them seniors – facing imminent changes to their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility prompted by the federal government and Congressional action. Those changes will cause an immediate and significant reduction in monthly food assistance funds beginning March 1, 2023.
According to Feeding America’s most recent report on The State of Senior Hunger in America, five percent of Pennsylvanians age 60 and older were food-insecure, not knowing the source of their next meal. The department’s Bureau of Food Assistance administers federal and state programs and fosters partnerships aimed at increasing food security across Pennsylvania.
The American Rescue Plan funds will allow the department to increase the dollar amount from $24 to $50 for vouchers offered to eligible seniors to redeem for fresh, local foods through the Senior Farmers Market Program. Funding will also enable added convenience for many farm market vendors who accept the vouchers, through embedded QR codes that make deposit easier.
Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers are issued from June through the end of September each year by Area Agencies on Aging. Seniors with household incomes below 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible. Specific income levels for 2023 have not yet been established. Vouchers can be redeemed for fresh, healthy, locally produced foods at farm markets statewide, boosting senior health through improved nutrition and the social interaction a farm market outing provides.
Find more information about Senior Food Boxes and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers on the department’s website, agriculture.pa.gov. Seniors can search for participating farm markets on the free PA FMNP Market Locator App, available through android and Apple app stores.
Learn more about Pennsylvania’s work to increase food security in Pennsylvania at agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.
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